Hormonal Drugs for Infertility
What about hormones? Every woman's got them. Every man complains about them. And every woman is terrified of hormone treatments. We use hormone treatments all the time in fertility.
We need hormones to grow eggs. We need eggs to make babies. Frequently, we start with hormone pills. Frequently, people have heard about a pill called Clomid or clomiphene citrate. It is used and abused all the time by gynecologists and fertility doctors.
Clomiphene citrate was designed to help people to ovulate, and it does a pretty good job of that. When women don't ovulate, and they're given Clomid, about 80% of them ovulate, only about 50% will get pregnant. So, for the 50%, who don't get pregnant using Clomid, and the 20% that didn't ovulate with Clomid, we have to use something else.
We have a new pill on the market. It's called Letrozole. It's in the family of aromatise inhibitors. Aromatise inhibitors were designed to treat breast cancer. So, when you get Letrozole, it's going to say that it's for treatment of breast cancer. It's going to be called chemotherapy. It's not chemotherapy the way you're scared of chemotherapy. It just means that it's a pill.
Letrozole helps people to ovulate. You take it for 5 days, just like you do clomiphene citrate. And it works better than clomiphene citrate. It's out of your system, faster than clomiphene citrate. Letrozole is starting to replace clomiphene citrate as the first line drug for an ovulation.
You used to have to use really big needles and shoot them in your butt, and it sounds scary. But they've changed. They now design them in the laboratory. They now are purified, and they're really more like giving yourself insulin shots, little teeny needles. Most of the time family or friends give you the shots, but if you really had to take it yourself, then you can. They're not that scary, in the past there was a lot of mixing involved. The hormones came in powder form. And you had to play chemistry kit mixing the water and the powder, and we still do that with some of the medicines we use. But many of the medicines now are pre-prepared. They're pure liquid, there's less mixing, and there's a whole lot less anxiety, when you take them.
Most people tolerate hormone medicines with ease. Clomiphene citrate, definitely, has some side effects of people complain about. I hear complaints about hot flashes, sensitivity to light, headaches, mood changes, just an all about bloated crummy feeling. Letrozole seems to be well-tolerated. What most women complain about is the effects of the egg growth. So, if you're taking fertility shots, you're often making more than one egg. In a natural cycle your estrogen peaks around 200-300. If you're taking fertility injections, then you may get three or four eggs. Your estrogen may be 1,200. If you're taking fertility shots for fertilization, then your estrogen may peak at 2000-3000, and I've seen 10,000.
Guess what, you might have symptoms then from the estrogen, you might have symptoms from the ovaries being three times as big as they were before, you might feel bloated, and you might retain water. Most women hate that, but it's all reversible, and it's all for a good cause. These fertility medicines work. They help you to get pregnant. You can sometimes feel quite uncomfortable with these medicines, but that is usually temporary, and the symptoms usually go away with time.